An electric car being charged at a charging station.

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

EV charging time can vary, but our guide covers everything you need to know!
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  • Rapid charging is widely available in the UK, it allows you to charge up 80% of your EV's battery capacity.
  • Home charging is slow but you can take advantage of cheaper tariffs.
  • Charging time is affected the battery size, battery charge state, charging rate and more.
  • To charge a Polestar 2 to 100% it will take 21 hours at 3.7kW OR 3.5 hours at 22kW.

Electric cars are becoming more and more popular each year. This is because they are a great alternative to petrol- or diesel-powered cars, and they help reduce emissions.

Car subscription providers have also started offering many more EV models making it easier for UK drivers to find an electric car for their budget and style. See our electric cars on subscription guide, it's quite good if you're just starting to look at these!

In this blog post, we will answer that question and also discuss the different types of charging stations available. Read on!

What affects the charging time?

Just like with other electronics, the charging time varies between makes, models and types of charger.

Generally speaking, the larger the car’s battery, the longer it will take to fully charge. That's why your iPad takes much longer to charge than your iPhone, for example!

In summary, the five main factors which affect how long your electric car would take to charge are:

  1. Car battery size - The bigger the battery capacity (measured in kWh), the longer it will take to charge. Some of the latest Polestar 2s have a 72kWh battery.
  2. Charging from empty - If your battery is completely drained, it will take longer to charge. Some EVs top up quickly if they are partially charged (usually that's 50% charge).
  3. The maximum charging rate allowed by the car -  You can only charge a vehicle’s battery at the maximum charge rate the vehicle can accept. For example, if your car’s max charge rate is 12kW, you won’t charge any faster by using a 24kW rapid charge point.
  4. The maximum charging rate of the charge point - Similarly, some public chargers will be limited to how fast their output is.
  5. Weather and the environment - A colder ambient temperate can affect your battery usage as well as how fast your car is charged. So, if you live in a colder place, it would generally take more time to gain the same amount of miles if you were charging somewhere warmer.

EV charging times by battery capacity and charger speed

The table below illustrates an estimated time to charge your EV based on the charger used and the vehicle's battery size:

EV type Small Medium Large
Battery size (right)
Charger output (below)
25 kWh 50 kWh 75 kWh
2.3 kW 10h30m 24h30m 32h45m
7.4 kW 3h45m 7h45m 10h00m
11 kW 2h00m 5h15m 6h45m
22 kW 1h00m 3h00m 4h30m
50 kW 36 min 53 min 1h20m
120 kW 11 min 22 min 33 min
150 kW 10 min 18 min 27min
240 kW 6 min 12 min 17 min

Table data source:

Charging at home

Plugging in your car into a normal three-point electric socket. This can take anywhere from six to eight hours, depending on how depleted the battery is when you start charging it.

Since charging times can vary between six hours and more than one hour when using public chargers, EV drivers will mostly charge their cars overnight, at home.

This way they can wake up to a full or nearly-full car battery every morning and continue on with their day without having to worry about how much “fuel” is left in the tank.

Charging at home also means it’s easier to manage how much money you spend on charging your electric car.

The average electric car costs about £200 per year in electricity, which is a lot cheaper compared to how much petrol or diesel cars cost each year. You can also take advantage of off-peak tariffs from your energy supplier. However, the cost of energy has recently spiked quite a lot so you should shop around for a good tariff. We have listed the best EV tariffs currently available here. You can check out our interactive map of electric car charging stations!

To charge your EV at home, you would need to install a wall box charger, which can cost anywhere from £400 - £700 (depending on the provider). If you don't have a garage, or a driveway, you can still own an EV - see our guide on the topic. You will also likely need a pavement cable protector too!

Woman charging her car near her home.

Public charging points

These are becoming a lot more common nowadays. You can find them in a range of locations, including service stations, town centres, supermarkets, office buildings, parking lots. Some charges can reach up to 150Kw so most electric cars can top up to 80% in under an hour.

The public charging network is definitely growing and now contains more than 42,000 charge connectors across the UK in over 15,500 locations. To give you an idea of scale, that's essential more public places to charge your car, than petrol stations! Also, be sure to read the EV charging etiquette to learn the written and unwritten rules of charging!

Charging an electric car through a public charger can be costly, though! There will be some freely available outlets, typically at supermarkets, but others may require you to subscribe to a particular EV charging provider.

As mentioned above, you might even be able to charge up at your workplace while working in your office. So, topping up can be quite easy!

Rapid chargers

These can top up an electric car battery to around 80% in as little as 30 minutes. You will usually find these located at places like motorway service stations, airports and other transport hubs.

However, not all EVs are compatible with rapid chargers – so be sure to check your car’s charging capabilities before you go out and try to find one of these points.

Most entry-level EVs are available with an optional upgrade that allows rapid charging of up to 100kW, which can tremendously speed up the charging time.

Other more expensive models, such as the Tesla Model 3 and Model S, can charge at a rate of 250kW. Hyundai Ioniq 5 gets close to this and can accept a charging speed of up to 200kW.

What is top-up charging?

Top up charging is a term used to describe how electric car owners charge their EVs.

This is the most common method for drivers to charge their electric vehicles. It simply refers to plugging in and charging the EV as soon as they have the chance.  

This is usually outside, using a public charger on the street or at a supermarket car park. So rather than waiting for your battery to drain completely, it's actually easier and faster to maintain the battery topped up given the opportunity.

Combining daytime top-up charging with overnight charging at home is an effective way to keep your electric car charged and ready to go. See our EV money-saving tips

How much range do I get per hour of charging?

This can vary considerably between different electric cars. As a rule of thumb, if you are charging at home using a standard plug socket, you will get roughly 15 miles per hour if charging at 3.7kW, or up to 30 miles at 7kW. This is the charge time and range you can expect from your home charging.

Rapid chargers are obviously much faster, so you may get up to 200miles in 30mins by charging at 150kW.

In summary, for an hour of charging you get:

  • Up to 15 miles at 3.7kW
  • Up to 30 miles at 7kW
  • Up to 90 miles at 22kW
  • Up to 180 miles at 43-50kW
  • Up to 400 miles at 150kW (or 200 miles in 30 mins)

So, to charge a vehicle to 100%, it will take:

  • Polestar 2 (78 kWh capacity) - 21 hours at 3.7kW OR 3.5 hours at 22kW.
  • Hyundai IONIQ (40.4 kWh capacity) - 11 hours at 3.7kW or 2 hours at 22kW.
  • Audi e-tron (95kWh capacity)- 25 hours at 3.7kW or 4 hours at 22kW.

Curious about the best electric vehicles? Check out our guide which covers the latest best EVs on subscription.

Car being charged on the street in London.

Why is my electric car charging slowly?

Most new electric cars charge very quickly until they charge your battery to 80%. They then slow down to protect the batteries and prolong their life.

Batteries are under the greatest strain when they are either completely fully charged, or completely empty. Software controls the speed of charging to make sure the battery is protected.

How long does an electric car stay charged?

Once your electric car is fully charged, it can stay that way for months. The battery drain on an average electric car is quite slow, losing about 1%-2% of its total battery capacity per month.

Do electric cars lose charge when parked? EVs lose charge when parked, although the loss is very minimal. Over time, this can add up to a significant amount of battery drain.

Most EVs can deal with long periods of time and hold their charge without driving or plugging in by going into "standby" or "deep sleep" mode.  

Over time battery degradation could become a concern, however judging by latest data, a typical EV after 10 years would still have about 77 per cent of its original capacity.

If you want to learn more about EVs, check out our in-depth electric car subscription guide!

What happens if your electric car runs out of battery in the middle of nowhere?

It can be very stressful to be stuck in the middle of nowhere, especially when you have a family with you.

If your EV runs out of power, the car will simply stop. The good news is that your EVs will warn you way ahead of time before you deplete the battery completely. Most cars will also signal the driver that they have just enough charge to pull over safely and they are about the reach the point of no return. You’ll then need to call roadside assistance and have your car towed to the nearest charging station.

Will electric cars ever charge in 5 minutes?

Is it possible? Yes. Is it coming soon? Maybe. There has been a lot of research going into building batteries which can handle faster rates of charging, cables which can transfer large amounts of charge safely, and also power grids which can handle fast charging. Anna Tomaszewska, at Imperial College London, projects that the technology for super-fast charging should reach consumers in the next five years. Her research paper outlines the evidence.

Another research carried out by Professor Chao-Yang Wang (et al), shows that fast charging batteries will be available to the mass market even sooner! He also projects that the cost for consumer won't go up, but rather stay the same, or even go down. This is because batteries will no longer have to be large and rely on big capacities, because drivers will be able to simply top-up and re-charge quickly in a few minutes.

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